UK Liberty

Another terrographer story

The Evening Standard:

A BBC photographer was stopped by police on suspicion of being a terrorist as he took pictures outside Tate Modern.

Jeff Overs, 48, was photographing sunset over St Paul’s Cathedral when a policewoman, with a community support officer, told him she was “stopping people who were taking photographs, as a counter-terrorism measure” and demanded his name, address and date of birth. …

Seriously, this is stupid and wrong.

Another flaw in the ISA

Posted in control freakery, database state, relates to ordinary people, stupid by ukliberty on November 27, 2009

Nursery World (didn’t see this in the nationals):

The Government’s controversial Vetting and Barring scheme has come under fire again after it emerged that nannies employed directly by parents will not be required to register.

… nannies are exempt from the scheme if their employment is deemed to be a ‘private arrangement’ with the family that they work for, raising fears that parents may unknowingly hire individuals that pose a threat to their children.

A spokesperson from the Department for Children, Schools and Families told Nursery World,

“If the nanny is supplied by an agency, then it will be the agency’s duty to check the nanny’s ISA registration before supplying the individual to the parents. If, however, the nanny is employed directly by the parents, with no agency involved, then there is no duty on the parent to check ISA registration and there is no duty on the nanny to be ISA-registered. The Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act was deliberately crafted in this way, so as not to intrude on private arrangements made by parents.”

There you have it: in the topsy-turvy world of child protection,  an arrangement made with an agency isn’t considered ‘private’.

Never mind.  As my correspondent writes, whether you are against the ISA because it is illiberal (me) or support it because you think it will protect children, surely this is a another flaw in the system.

Also, as the article points out, will it mean the children of the less well-off are made more vulnerable than those of the more well-off?  Presumably this will increase the cost of employing an agency nanny, motivating the less well off to seek a ‘private arrangement’.

It all seems a bit pointless though, doesn’t it?  Seeing as would-be parents aren’t going to be checked under the Vetting and Barring scheme.

And, on that note, see this.

Nothing to hide, nothing to fear – right?

The Register:

The UK government has turned down an opposition request to explain why it has refused to publish a full security report into ContactPoint, the controversial child protection database. …

Human Genetics Commission criticises National DNA Database

The Register:

The Human Genetics Commission (HGC) is the Government’s group of independent advisers on developments in human genetics: it is hoped that its “nuanced” critique of government policy will avoid a repetition of the Nutt affair and the Home Secretary will not, on this occasion, go so far as to sack his experts for providing advice that is out of step with his own views.

The HGC report, Nothing to hide, nothing to fear, concludes that although Britain has the largest police DNA database in the world – five million strong and still growing – this has been developed piecemeal without a specific Act of Parliament. The database needs to be regulated on a clear statutory basis and supervised by an independent authority.


On retired police officer told the researchers that in contrast to practices in his early career, it was now “the norm” to arrest people for “everything there is a power to do so” in part to expand the database.

“It is apparently understood by serving police officers that one of the reasons, if not the reason, for the change in practice is so that the DNA of the offender can be obtained: samples can be obtained after arrest but not if there is a report for summons. It matters not, of course, whether the arrest leads to no action, a caution or a charge, because the DNA is kept on the database anyway,” the ex-copper said.

The report further concludes that:

– There is insufficient evidence at present to be able to say what use it is to hold DNA profiles from different people

– There needs to be very careful consideration of the equality impact of the database and any proposed changes to it

– There needs to be a clear and independent appeals procedure for unconvicted people who want their DNA removed

The Government of course dismisses all criticism.

“We know that the DNA database is a vital crime fighting tool, identifying 410,589 crime scenes between 1998 and March 2009 with a DNA match and a possible lead on the possible identity of the offender.”

Which gives us no information on what proportion of those matches turned out to be of any use, exactly (one of) the point the HGC made.

Intercept Modernisation Programme delayed until after next election

Posted in politicians on liberty, privacy, surveillance society by ukliberty on November 11, 2009

The Independent (and other outlets):

Plans to store information about every phone call, email and internet visit in the United Kingdom have in effect been abandoned by the Government.

The Home Office confirmed the “Big Brother” scheme had been delayed until after the election amid protests that it would be intrusive and open to abuse. Although ministers publicly insisted yesterday that they remained committed to the scheme, they have decided not to include the contentious measure in next week’s Queen’s Speech, the Government’s final legislative programme before the election.